1. GENERAL HEADING: Exploring the Text

2. TITLE OF EXERCISE: "Graphing Dramatic Structure: Characters and Stage Time"

3. GOALS: To render the structure of a play visually, and examine its implications.

4. NUMBER OF STUDENTS: Individuals.

5. EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES: Scripts; paper, ruler, and colored pens or pencils; or software for making graphs/charts.

6. CLASS TIME NEEDED: Preparation time: 1 hour min. (homework). Discussion time: 15 - 30 minutes.

7. STEP-BY-STEP DESCRIPTION: Assignment: to graph the entrances, exits and relative stage time of every character in a play. The most sophisticated graphs separate each scene, plotting the speech of each character against the line numbers of the scene. Ideally the entire play should be visible on the graph or chart. It is helpful to distinguish characters with different colors or patterns. Once students have completed their graphs, they should share and discuss them with classmates.


9. SOURCE/REFERENCE: Prof. Audrey Stanley, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1995-96 NEH Institute "Shakespeare Examined through Performance."



Variation 1) Have students write about their discoveries.

Variation 2) Divide the graph into French scenes (i.e. the entrance or exit of any character begins a new scene, regardless of editorial act or scene divisions).

Variation 3) Use the graph to figure out how a theatre company from Shakespeare's day might have had their limited number of actors double and triple to fill all the roles of the play.